From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has assured that the Federal Government was actively exploring options on how best to liquidate the debts owed contractors across the country, including the use of bonds.
The Federal Government was owing over N2 trillion to contractors mainly on road construction.
Osinbajo disclosed this when he met with members of the Tactical Committee on Recession from House of Representatives yesterday to discuss the economy and particularly possible ways of navigating Nigeria out of recession. The members were led by Committee Chairman, Dr. Bode Ayorinde, in what they said was a visit to promote cordiality and progressive synergy between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
Speaking on the need for political leaders to use their positions and the leadership opportunity to effect changes that would benefit the citizenry, the Vice President said leadership was a call to service.
According to him, “how many people will get this kind of opportunity we have to lead? The opportunity to serve is one that must be taken seriously and used for the common good.”
Addressing the issue of corruption and its attendant impact on development, Osinbajo said, “it is in our interest to deal with corruption. This is not moralising, it is an existential threat, it is a survival issue.” He said, “we need to address the fundamentals of that abnormality. If we do not address it, no matter what we say, things won’t work. I think it is very important, especially for us who are in government today either as legislature or executive, to address this issue.
It is a fundamental issue; everywhere in the world, even where they do not have the problems we have, they are addressing the issue.
“So we must address it, and it is everywhere; look at foreign exchange and you can identify the problems. You fix the rate of foreign exchange at the rate it is and you know what the black market is, look at the arbitrage which is so large; there is bound to be corruption, it is impossible for there not to be corruption.”
Osinbajo expressed hope that the monetary and fiscal policies are being aligned, adding that, “we are constantly in discussion with the CBN, discussing how to reduce interest rates.”
The Vice President, speaking on revenue allocation as raised by the lawmakers, noted that emphasis must shift from “sharing” to generating more revenue internally, including in the states.
In his remarks earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Ayorinde, said some of their areas of concern include the foreign exchange policy and its impact on manufacturing, calling for a review.
He said the committee was ready to interface with the Economic Management Team and commended the team for all its efforts to revamp the economy, including the recently released Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Earlier, the Vice President chaired the meeting of the National Innovation and Research Council attended by several ministers from the Ministries of Science and Technology, Budget and Planning, Education and Justice. Representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) were also in attendance.